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ICRC activities in Israel and the occupied and autonomous territories: April 2008

10-06-2008 Operational Update

In Israel and the occupied and autonomous territories, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) strives to ensure the faithful application of international humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention protecting civilians during armed conflict and occupation - Contains link to Hebrew version.

   

   
 
 
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Overview 
 

The ICRC continued to closely monitor the humanitarian consequences of the recent military operations in Gaza, working to ensure the safety of civilians and medical services.

In the West Bank, the ICRC pursued 10 projects undertaken to provide 83,000 people with access to clean water.

In Israel and the occupied and autonomous ter ritories, the ICRC regularly visited detainees covered by its mandate to monitor their conditions of detention and their treatment, and it submitted its observations and recommendations to the authorities in charge on a confidential basis.

    

 
Protection 
 

 Promoting respect for civilians  

    

The ICRC regularly reminded Israel, the Palestinian authorities and the Palestinian security forces of their obligations under international humanitarian law.

    

In the Gaza Strip, the ICRC continued to monitor the consequences of recent military operations, striving to ensure the safety of civilians and medical services.

In the West Bank, the ICRC made representations to the Israeli authorities about the humanitarian consequences of the illegal routing of the West Bank barrier through the occupied territories. The organization is particularly concerned about the difficulties Palestinian farmers are experiencing in reaching their land in the " seam zone " (the land located between the Green Line and the West Bank barrier), and the problems faced by some of the isolated communities living there. The ICRC also continued to monitor the humanitarian consequences stemming from the restrictions on movement imposed on Palestinian civilians by the Israel Defense Forces.

 Visits to detainees in Israeli places of detention  

In April, the ICRC visited 20 Israeli places of detention. These included provisional detention centres, police stations and prisons as well as interrogation centres, which are visited on a weekly basis.

 Visits to detainees in the Palestinian territories  

    

ICRC delegates visited prisons, police stations and other detention facilities run by the Palestinian authorities in Ramallah, Jericho, Hebron, Bethlehem, Jenin, Salfit, Tubas and the Gaza Strip.

 Family visits and messages to detainees  

    

The ICRC family-visit programme enables families from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the occupied Golan to visit relatives held in Israeli places of detention. In April, more than 12,000 people travelled to 27 Israeli places of detention and visited some 5,000 relatives in detention.

The Israeli authorities suspended the ICRC family-visit programme for families from Gaza on 6 June 2007. This suspension remains in effect and affects around 900 detainees from Gaza in Israeli prisons.

Exchanging Red Cross messages is another way for families to remain in touch with their relatives in detention. In April, the ICRC collected and delivered over 2,600 messages between detainees and their relatives. The ICRC also made several hundred phone calls to family members to inform them of the whereabouts and welfare of their detained relatives.

 
Assistance 
 

 Relief for families whose houses have been destroyed  

    

In the West Bank and Gaza the ICRC distributed food and other essential items to 34 families whose houses had been totally or partially destroyed by the Israeli army.

 Hebron assistance programme  

    

In the old city of Hebron, the ICRC distributed food parcels and hygiene kits to more than 1,300 families affected by street closures, and over 8,500 kg of wheat flour.

 Emergency aid  

    

In the West Bank and Gaza, the ICRC provided emergency aid to 88 families, in the form of 246 food parcels and 128 hygiene kits.

 Cash-for-work programme and livelihood support  

    

The ICRC paid for 2,723 days of work on various infrastructure or agricultural projects across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

ICRC livelihood-support programmes have helped 94 households develop new ways of generating income despite the restrictions on movement due to closures, settlements and the West Bank barrier. The ICRC has provided greenhouse items, professional kits, livestock, and materials for repairing and upgrading boats.

 Health  

    

The ICRC delivered around 104 tonnes of medical supplies to 18 general hospitals run by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza and the West Bank.

An ICRC biomedical engineer assessed the need for medical equipment and spare parts in eight general hospitals in Gaza.

The ICRC continued to monitor the health-care system through networking and through its presence on the ground, paying particular attention to the critical situation of hospitals in Gaza in light of the fuel shortage.

In the West Bank, the ICRC participated in presentations for staff in three hospitals, as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the need to protect medical services. It also closely monitored hospitals’ needs, focusing on the availability of medical equipment, spare parts, drugs and disposable items.

 Water and habitat  

In the West Bank, the ICRC continued to run 10 water-supply projects, including the construction of a new well, a pumping station, two water main lines and six tanks, which will give 83,000 people access to clean water. In the Hebron district, the ICRC completed the construction of a water tank with a capacity of 2,000 cubic metres in Samoa and a 8,400-metre water line from Yatta to Samoa stretching over 8,400 metres, which will benefit 22,000 people.

In the Gaza Strip, the ICRC worked on the construction of a permanent pumping station and an additional settling lagoon for sewage evacuation and partial water treatment in Khan Younis, which will benefit around 150,000 people. It also repaired and supplied, as needed, vital electromechanical components (boiler, softener, generators, cooling and air-conditioning systems) to hospitals in Gaza.

 
Cooperation with the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the Magen David Adom 
 

The ICRC supervised practice drills organized in Haifa and Ashkelon by the Magen David Adom as part of a week-long series of emergency-preparedness activities.

 
Raising awareness of international humanitarian law and the ICRC's activities 
 

It is the responsibility of all those involved in armed conflict to comply with international humanitarian law. The ICRC encourages them to do so by raising awareness of that law and of its own role and activities.

The delegation continued to make regular presentations on the ICRC and on basic principles of international humanitarian law to senior officers from the Civil Administration, training staff of the Crossing Points Administration, Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Border Guard checkpoint commanders.

In Gaza, 50 students from the law, media and political science faculties at Al-Azhar University attended a session about the ICRC and international humanitarian law, run in cooperation with the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights.

Other sessions on ICRC activities and the basic principles of humanitarian law were delivered to religious leaders, students, members of women's centres, non-governmental organizations, medical staff and security forces, and Palestine Red Crescent Society staff and volunteers in the West Bank and Gaza.